Workers should have the right to raise workplace safety concerns

Workers from carpenters to firefighters routinely work in dangerous environments. And in too many cases their employers are willing to cut corners when it comes to workplace safety.

SHARE Workers should have the right to raise workplace safety concerns
The Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville heavily damaged after a thunderstorm in December 2021.

The Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville was heavily damaged after a thunderstorm in December 2021. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the deadly collapse “raised concerns about the potential risk to employees” during weather emergencies.

Jeff Roberson/AP

Last Thursday, April 28, we honored Workers’ Memorial Day and mourned the deaths of Illinoisans and Americans who have lost their lives on the job. We were faced with stark reminders about how far worker safety has come — and how far we have left to go.

Over time, workers and labor unions have fought hard to make sure big businesses don’t cut corners on worker safety, and it shows. Illinois has a lower workplace death rate than our neighbors in Indiana, a state roughly half our size, and that isn’t by mistake. Supporting strong labor laws and workplace protections has made Illinois a safer, more prosperous place, but we’re still losing more than 100 workers a year to preventable workplace deaths.

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Workers from carpenters to firefighters routinely work in dangerous environments. And in too many cases their employers are willing to cut corners when it comes to workplace safety, with devastating results like what we saw in Edwardsville, when workers were not told where to take shelter inside an Amazon warehouse during a tornado, costing six of our neighbors their lives.

Too many working people across Illinois are forced to work in similarly dangerous conditions, with no real recourse to raise safety concerns without fear of losing their job in an act of retaliation. Every Illinois worker deserves better. This November, workers are on the ballot.

In the general election, we have an opportunity to vote yes on Amendment 1, the Workers’ Rights Amendment, which would update our state constitution to guarantee Illinois workers their right to raise important safety concerns and ensure that every Illinoisan has access to a safe workplace.

There has never been a more important time to stand with Illinois workers and support their right to safer conditions at work. Throughout the pandemic, we were forced to watch working families suffer, all while the largest corporations in our country raked in record profits, quarter after quarter. The Workers’ Rights Amendment can level the playing field for working folks across the state and put power back in the hands of every company’s greatest asset: its workers.

Illinois has a proud tradition of standing with our working families. Passing the Workers’ Rights Amendment and enshrining these rights in our state constitution would send a loud and clear message to the rest of the country that Illinois won’t compromise on the backs of working people. 

Help us make Illinois a workers’ rights state. Vote yes on Amendment 1 in November.

Tim Drea, president, Illinois AFL-CIO
Bob Reiter, president, Chicago Federation of Labor

No test, no accountability for Chicago schools

So telling and reflective of our society, Chicago Public Schools has now ditched the test for evaluating and ranking schools and replaced it with ... nothing. In that regard, CPS is now like its students: It would rather get rid of tests than confront its dismal performance.

CPS says it has ditched the standards because it is seeking a new approach “reflective of community values.” But having no test, no accountability and instead focusing on “resources and inputs” is reflective of today’s community values. Today’s values include lack of accountability, blaming others and if you don’t like the results, then just throw them out.

I could hand CPS a blank check with unlimited resources — much as the federal government did during the pandemic — and little would change. It’s all a sad joke and undermines those we claim to be helping: the kids.

William Choslovsky, CPS parent, Sheffield Neighbors

Speed cameras are better than nothing

In response to the writer from the Illinois Policy Institute, whose letter was critical of the city’s speed camera program, a few questions are in order, primarily: Whatever happened to the idea of holding people accountable for their actions? The current program is easy to criticize, but remember that it does not engage in any profiling, racial or otherwise. If you speed, you pay — period.

I would know, having received one of those tickets myself last year for speeding near a park. The citation was deserved, and it was paid. The writer cites the example of a South Side park area where the most citations were issued. Seniors, parents and children are in those parks and deserve a safe environment.

If so many motorists choose to drive recklessly past that park, then I hope the city bankrupts them. It’s better than having to live with killing someone.

Finally, it is doubtful the writer or anyone else from the Illinois Policy Institute has ever been on the scene where a child was killed by a speeding driver. That letter to the editor would never have been written if they had.

David L. Milligan, Portage Park

Lack of White Sox hustle

In the ninth inning of a tie ball game Thursday, one win removed from an 8-game losing streak, Tim Anderson hit a grounder and clearly loped to first as if he were on a leisurely trot. Turns out if he even ran at a reasonable pace, he would have been safe due to an errant throw. To no one’s surprise, Tony La Russa defended his shortstop. 

Rick Renteria had his faults as a manager, but the one thing he had was players who hustled all the time or they sat on the bench. Win or lose, the team was fun to watch. I sincerely hope that we are not on a return path to the sleepy days of the Robin Ventura era. Our team is too talented for that. Not hustling is not acceptable. 

John Farrell, DeKalb

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